Guest post by John Bell
There is something that troubles me in the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) debate that I would like to bring to light and solicit remarks from others in helping me understand it. I used to believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) when I first heard about it decades ago because it seemed plausible, but as I read articles skeptical of it I saw how I had been fooled. Being a skeptic I must dig in and get both sides of a controversial subject and then decide for myself. I’m a mechanical engineer and I understand physics and chemistry and energy a bit better than the average bear.
I compare the CAGW community to mainstream organized religion, in particular the Catholic church and its hierarchy, like a pyramid with the pope at the peak and below are bishops and then priests and then on the bottom are the laity. Obviously the pope of it is Al Gore, and below him are such names as Mann and McKibben and below them are priests (bloggers and pundits). On the bottom are many average citizens who are not active participants in the debate but if asked if they at least believe in AGW they respond yes, simply because the media bombard them with it daily, however they do not act on it beyond lip service and recycling because what can one do?
It is one thing for Al Gore, as wealthy as he is, to tell others to sacrifice and use less energy (i.e. to cause less CO2 output) and then himself use 37 times the amount of energy that the average American uses. Here I am not talking about Gore, but rather those many people farther down the pyramid, at the priest level, who collectively add up to far more than Gore. How can they daily beat the CAGW drum and then live the typical American (high CO2) lifestyle? That would cause massive cognitive dissonance with me.
A few years ago I was listening to a popular radio show, “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross on NPR, and she was interviewing a pro-AGW scientist whose name escapes me. I think he traveled around the USA on a university speaking tour, getting the word out about AGW, and when Terry gently reminded him that he was producing lots of CO2 by traveling on jetliners, he quickly countered “…ah, but I’m doing good work.” That revealed to me an elitist mindset; that it is okay to do what one is telling others not to do in order to spread the pearls of wisdom to the ignorant masses.
Taking that notion, I want to make an analogy. Imagine a scenario of miners who are trapped underground after a cave in, with apparently limited air supply. One miner begins to tell the others that they should remain calm and sit down and relax and conserve oxygen until help arrives, and then other miners who agree also go around telling everyone the same and soon every miner is running around frantically telling everyone else to sit down and relax but no one will do what they are telling others to do because they think it is doing good work. Later, after rescue they are told that the mine is so big that there was no danger of oxygen depletion anyway. What if everyone were to fly around on jets and preach to everyone else not to fly on jets? One could not even email others and tell them not to use their computers because it takes coal to make the electricity. It puts believers in a wildly bizarre dilemma, so how can they justify it? I would say compartmentalized thinking.
I used to go camping on my friend’s hilltop property near Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Near there are Amish farms and I stopped at their roadside stands to buy their baked goods. I am agnostic so I do not agree with them on a theological level, but I have great respect for them because from what I can tell, their life style is consistent with their beliefs. They do not merely talk the talk, they walk the walk, and it is not an easy walk. They are not warmists; but for theological reasons they forego modern luxuries.
The CAGW faithful talk it but do not walk it (except Ed Begley jr.), and I really notice it at the priestly level, mainly from pundits and bloggers. They should give up modern luxuries because of their belief in CAGW. I never expect a politician to practice what he preaches, but I would think that if all these AGW advocates really believe in their cause they would all band together live much like the Amish, not for theological reasons, but simply to avoid being flaming hypocrites. And if the oceans rise up to smite us skeptics, then the warmists, from their sea-walled enclaves can say, “We told you it would happen, so don’t blame us because we have lived like the Amish for 88 years!” (2100 – 2012 = 88) I use the year 2100 based on all their “by the end of the century” predictions.
The CAGW debate should be a purely scientific debate, but too often it is a political debate. Certain groups in American partisan politics are automatically supporters of climate change because for them it is politically correct to promote the CAGW meme. I fancy myself a skeptic, and within the skeptical movement is the famous Professor Robert Todd Carroll, of California who authors “The Skeptics Dictionary” (www.skepdic.com). I really admire this man, I have learned a lot reading his web site. However, he is pro-AGW, seemingly because of his politics. I have no problem with this, but here is a stellar example of someone who is 99% skeptic, yet puts political fashion above evidence. Here I am, the student, observing my mentor doing what he taught me NOT to do, but I respect him so much that I do not want to call him out on it. In my view, a true skeptic should doubt the CAGW meme.
From the McKibbens down to the warmist bloggers, I would love to follow any of them around for a day and remind them not to use any carbon-based energy, lest they be elitist and hypocritical. Don’t you dare heat your house in the winter, or use an air conditioner or drive a car, or cook on the stove or use your computer, because that would make you look like a “denier” as they call my kind. If I were a warmist I would not be caught dead in a car or an airplane. I would set a golden example and walk or ride a bicycle or use a paddle boat. No phone, no lights, no motorcar, not a single luxury!